I laughed when I came across the result of a contest at Texas A&M University for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term back in 2007: “Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”
Political correctness was essentially created so our actions or words would not offend or upset anyone. Do you remember the cute rhyme our parents taught us if we were ever teased at school?
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.
Today I think it’s more like:
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but offend me and I’ll sue you.”
Political correctness isn’t really about being ‘nice to people’, tolerant and treating others with proper respect – that’s called good manners. Some say commonsense is a thing of the past. If, for example, you catch a burglar in your house, then it’s probably best to help the poor soul by carrying your possessions to the front door lest he should trip and hurt himself and you end up in court!
Is it time we hardened up a little and stopped being so sensitive to people with opinions that are different to ours? Is it time we recognise our personal and ethnic differences and be okay with them?
When growing up I was told, like many other people, that honesty was a virtue and an honourable way of life. Honesty should be the easiest thing in the world, right? It’s not. We can’t just go around saying exactly what we think and feel. But why can’t we just ‘tell it like it is’?
- We don’t want to offend anyone.
- We don’t want to risk appearing inadequate.
- We don’t want to ‘get into trouble’.
- We don’t want to take responsibility for what has already happened or might in future.
- We don’t want to say ‘the wrong thing’ and miss out on something.
In most of these cases, being politically correct isn’t about the wellbeing of the other guy at all; it’s about avoiding something we don’t want instead of taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions. Is it time to lighten up and realise that being offended by something says more about us than it does about the person affronting us?